Eagle Merchant Partners, an Atlanta-based private equity firm, has acquired Vasari LLC, the second largest franchisee in the Dairy Queen system and the largest franchisee in Texas. This announcement marks the first deal for Eagle Merchant Partners and includes 74 Dairy Queen restaurants, 71 of which are in Texas.

According to a news release, a majority of the Dairy Queen restaurants are located around Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, Waco, East Texas and the panhandle region. The transaction includes an exclusive territory rights agreement for the development of an additional 16 stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth market.

The firm is committed to providing capital for the existing restaurants, with plans to remodel and modernize 70 stores throughout the next five years.

"We are very excited about our first investment as EMP and to be developing new Dairy Queen stores in the Dallas-Ft. Worth market," said Stockton Croft, partner with EMP. "Dairy Queen is an iconic, 80-year-old brand and we bring significant restaurant experience in the state of Texas to the table."

In 2004, EMP principals were involved in the acquisition of the largest IHOP franchisee in Texas. In the IHOP deal the team doubled the store base over the hold period. The partners have also invested in other restaurant concepts, including Church's Chicken and Krystal. EMP is actively seeking to acquire additional multiunit Dairy Queen operators in the region who are looking for a professional transition and exit.

Read more franchising news.

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